According to Wikipedia, “An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.” And that rather dry explanation is only the beginning of it. Oils are a way of life for many and they can enhance your life in so many ways.

Easterners have known about the value of essential oils forever, but now the west is also embracing them. They are finding their way into many personal pharmacies and almost everyone has at least a precious bottle or two. Perhaps it’s time to toss out the chemicals and embrace the oils.

As Wikipedia almost explains, essential oils are distilled from plants, nuts, barks and other natural compounds. Some are purely floral, others more medicinal but rest assured, every genuine oil has therapeutic properties and many increase health and well being.

Recently I returned from India with a phial of medium quality sandalwood oil, known for its calming benefits. The aroma precedes me everywhere I go and every Balinese remarks on it. Being surrounded with a warm, feel-good fragrance elevates the senses, not to mention enhancing the immune system and other vital functions.


There are so many oils and so many purposes. One friend is experimenting with various combinations of oils to find a perfect blend to enhance the hormone system naturally. Using Balinese sourced ingredients she hopes to have it ready soon.

Some of the more popular oils like lavender and tea tree are well known. For example it is almost law that lavender relaxes – something I first heard a long time ago. But as we develop, all kinds of exciting new findings appear as we revert to the wisdom of the ancients. Here is a list of some of my own personal favourites – Black Pepper – the major active ingredient, piperine, has the ability to enhance the digestive system and protect against oxidative damage. Yet it can also relieve aches and pains, lower cholesterol, help detox the body and enhance circulation. It can even reduce cravings for cigarettes, although I would take that with a grain of pure Kusamba sea salt!

Rose – a long time favourite, rose oil can improve acne, balance hormones, relieve anxiety, improve depression, reduce rosacea and naturally increase the libido.

Bergamot – a favourite addition to men’s perfumes, is known to build confidence and enhance your mood. It is also used to kill bacteria, heal scars and minimise marks on the skin. It can also reduce headache pain and muscle tension as well as stimulate hormonal and digestive juices.

Nutmeg – amongst other uses, nutmeg is very calming and a few drops on your pillow at night will help to ensure a sound sleep!

Sandalwood – favoured by sages and holy men, this oil is reputed to bring a sense of calm and mental clarity, reducing stress and increasing feelings of wellbeing.

Cedarwood – This sweet oil from the cedar tree has antifungal, antiseptic, diuretic, astringent and sedative properties. It can improve skin tones, help with organ functions, tighten muscles, improve metabolism and benefit your digestive system.

Oregano – At the risk of smelling like a salad dressing, oregano can be utilised as a natural alternative to antibiotics. Two powerful compounds of carvacrol and thymol have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and can hep rid the body of bacterial infections, parasites and viruses, inflammation and candida and even allergies and tumours.

Myrrh – contains two primary active compounds, terpenoids and sesquiterpenes, and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Sesquiterpenes have an effect on our hypothalamus, helping us remain calm and balanced with feelings of wellbeing. Both of these compounds are believed to have anticancer and antibacterial benefits.

Frankincense – Boswellia serrata has strong anti-inflammatory, and potentially anti-cancer, effects. As well as smelling wonderful, it also protects healthy cells.

Clove – Considerably high in manganese and other nutrients including potassium, magnesium, and calcium – which is used to help treat osteoporosis, anaemia and PMS. Clove oil also helps to eliminate acne, kill parasites, Improve blood circulation and of course relieve tooth ache and reduce gum disease. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory.

Geranium – commonly used as an element in aromatherapy, it’s also used as a holistic treatment to improve physical, mental and emotional health. Use it for radiant skin, to treat acne, reduce inflammation, alleviate anxiety and balance hormones. Try it to uplift your mood and lessen fatigue.

Juniper Berry – once used to ward off witches, juniper is most commonly used for a sore throat and respiratory infections, fatigue, muscle aches and arthritis. It can also help soothe skin flare-ups, boost the immune system, help with insomnia and aid with digestion.

Sea buckthorn oil – contains powerful phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory properties and even anti-cancer elements and liver cleansing properties and helps with adrenal fatigue.

Patchouli – once favoured strongly by the hippies, patchouli makes a good servant but a bad master. Coming from the same family as lavender, mint and sage, patchouli has long been used as an ingredient for perfume and is also used in incense, insect repellents and alternative medicines. It’s also used for skin care and said to reduce acne, eczema, inflammation, and cracked, chapped or irritated skin. It has cell-rejuvenating properties, good for anti-aging skin care.

Spikenard – Spikenard oil is used to naturally treat insomnia, stress, digestive problems, weak immune system and infections. In Ayurveda, it’s used for treating sleeping troubles, depression, stress, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome and nervous problems. The powdered stem of this beneficial plant is taken internally to cleanse the uterus, help with infertility and treat menstrual disorders.

Vetiver – in India and Sri Lanka it’s known as the “oil of tranquility.” It can be used for treating heat stroke, joint disorders and skin problems. Vetiver is also good for boosting energy levels and cooling the body during very high temperatures. It can soothe feelings of anxiety and nervousness and even help with ADHD and ADD, as well as insomnia and skin care.

Some blends are also almost invaluable in the oil cupboard. ‘Thieves” was theoretically invented during the time of the bubonic plague to protect individuals from the ravages of the plague. It is an invaluable tool that can be used for many purposes from healing a simple cut to curing infections and illness.

The list goes on but there are so many benefits from using oils that its worth a try. Scout around in Ubud and you will find many locally made, and of course Young Living is known for its very pure but highly priced products.